LeadingAge PA reported the following information the day that Governor Wolf announced his fiscal year 2017-2018 budget proposal.
On February 7, 2017, Governor Wolf announced his proposed budget for state fiscal year 2017-2018 before a joint session of the General Assembly. The Governor started by discussing a number of issues that he touted as successes for Pennsylvania during his two years as Governor. These issues include reform of the liquor control system, passage of the medical marijuana law, addressing the underfunding of the school system, increasing funds to fight the opioid epidemic and the creation of 82,000 more jobs in Pennsylvania than before his tenure.
The Governor then went on to say that there is still more work to be done if Pennsylvania is to close the structural deficit, but he claimed that solutions must be responsible and put schools and seniors first. In his efforts to put schools first, the Governor proposed $125M additional funding for all levels of education. The Governor also stated that through efficiencies his $32.3 billion proposal includes savings of more than $2 billion - although the details on the savings are difficult to determine at this point.
As for the Governor's claim that he is putting seniors first, it is difficult to unravel as the Governor's budget proposal merges the funding of the Departments of Aging, Health, Human Services and Drug & Alcohol Programs. For our nursing facility members, the Long Term Care Line Item is merged with most if not all of what had previously been Department of Aging Programs. This merging of numbers makes it difficult at this point to determine exactly what the numbers might mean. That said, it does not appear that the Governor included a rate increase in his proposal.
What is apparent is that the Long Term Care or "Nursing Facility" line item will over time become the Community HealthChoices line item. Moneys from the Aging Waiver as well as the other home and community-based waivers that serve individuals with physical disabilities have been moved from individual line items into long term care for community health choices.
For our LIFE providers, an additional $7 million in state funds is included in the Governor's proposal to serve an additional 600 individuals plus $7.1 million to expand the program to an additional nine counties.
LeadingAge PA will provide further information on the specifics of the Governor's proposal as they become available.
Read a Message from Ron Barth, President and CEO of LeadingAge PA.